Graphic novels are more than just stories, they are stories via art. I always find Graphic Novels very engaging and gripping because of the art. Will Eisner brought graphic novels to life. This was the first Graphic Novel that was created, I didn’t know that until I completed reading this book.
The artwork in the book is intense, it’s hard to believe that this was the first graphic novel, it’s quite polished and bold. The book has four stories, mostly relating to Will’s own experiences while growing up. The title of the story comes from the first story, A contract with God. All four stories are tragic and depressingly audacious. There is every sort of tragedy happening in those 200 pages.
In the first story, a man named Frimme Hersh builds a contract with God, that he abides by every word, but God doesn’t. It’s a mirror to the society, of how our behavior is driven by the benefits we get out of it. The way the story is told makes it predictable but also sad, you don’t want Frimme to do things he is doing, but he abides by human nature. The second story is of a street singer who is poor and never had a stroke of luck in any profession he chose, which drove his family to poverty and substandard living condition. He is careless and driven by momentary happiness, he cheated on his wife for a break in the music industry. The moment he gets some money, he starts celebrating, but it doesn’t last long for him. The third story is of a poor worker in a tenement who is of perverted nature and doesn’t hesitate to hit or molest a child for his lust. His story ends tragically in due course as his pleasure bubble burst.
Each of the stories end tragically. How, is the spoiler. You are left to pity the characters and also to blame them for their tragic end. Overall, it’s a masterpiece, it takes you in this dark side of human nature with few words and a couple of drawings. I would recommend this to anyone who likes dark stories, graphic novels and wants to read more Will Eisner.